The NCH Fast Track program isn't for everyone. A prospective Fast Track patient must be physically fit and have a positive mindset. The Fast Track program requires diligence, dedication and self-discipline. Fast Track patients go home a day earlier than regular patients and have all of their physical therapy managed by a home care nurse and physical therapist rather than in a rehabilitation center.
Why get patients home sooner? Very simply, the faster patients get home, the faster they heal and the healthier they are. The chance of infection is decreased, and they become more fully engaged in the rehabilitation process.
"NCH surgeons identify potential candidates for the Fast Track program," says Diane Ryzner, APN, for Orthopedics, Orthopedic Service Line Administrator and lead for the Fast Track team. "They look for patients who have the physical strength and mental determination to follow all the rules and see the program through when they get home. Age is not a factor as long as certain conditions are in place." Patients who decide to become a part of the program are guided every step of the way by the NCH Fast Track team comprised of the surgeon, nurses, patient care techs, clinical care coordinators (C3s), therapists, home care nurses and therapists.
Prospective candidates begin by attending a Joint Replacement class at NCH and learning about the process of their recovery. Before their surgery, staff members instruct patients on how to equip their home with all the necessary medical equipment, such as a shower chair, commode, walker, etc. C3s will assist in the selection of a home healthcare provider and physical therapist to come to their home.
Fast Track patients are scheduled early in the morning, and physical therapy begins afterward that same day. "That first session is so the therapist can assess a patient's physical condition after surgery," says Diane. "Sometimes we just have a patient sit up in bed and dangle their feet off the side of the bed. Other times, patients get out of bed and walk a few steps with a walker."
On the day of discharge, patients usually have a physical therapy session in the morning and then are picked up and driven home by their coach/caregiver right after lunch. As part of the program, patients must have a coach/caregiver stay with them 24 hours a day for at least 3 days. That afternoon, the home healthcare nurse and physical therapist will come to the patient's home for their first visit. Regular visits from the nurse and physical therapist continue until it's obvious that the patient can transition into outpatient therapy.
Of course, NCH will always offer the more traditional forms of recovery. But if you're eager to get out there and get moving again, the NCH "Fast Track" orthopedic program might be just what the doctor ordered.